Upgrading Category: Tips on longer distances & Mixed fields

I just upgraded to cat 3, and all the norcal masters races tend to be 35+ 1/2/3. I am trying to think about how to adjust my training for the future and also how to think about mixed fields strategically. Dipping my toes into the first race at Dunnigan this weekend.

**1- Longer Distance races: Masters 4’s were usually in the 2-2.5hr range, which happens to align with my training well, a lot of my training rides I could put in more TSS than a race. The higher cat races tend to be 3-4 hours. I know I’ve heard @Nate_Pearson @chad and @Jonathan talk on the podcast about how you don’t need to match the duration of your races in training, however I find when I go hard in races past the duration I train at I risk cramping. I tend to do most of my training on weekdays after work which is why that 2ish hours tends to be my upper limit. Curious on any thoughts on this - try to start squeezing a couple longer rides in is my suspition. Or do I just try to keep pushing my FTP up. I think my total weekly time of 8-12 hours is likely enough, but maybe need to distribute differently?

2- Mixed 1/2/3 fields: Curious of tips/thoughts on how to approach. I know @Nate_Pearson has been racing some of these fields. If a break of cat 2’s go, do I care, or should I look at every cat agnostically and just race the field? Also, do people look at the pre reg list and sometimes hop in the E3 field if the 1/2/3 is packed with 1/2’s etc…?

This depends on how the race will be scored. Most commonly in my region a combined field is scored together, so you have to race the field, not the category of the racers. Every once in a while they will stage multiple fields together and score them separately - in that case you should absolutely pay attention to who is in your field and race them and not the other fields

The total time is definitely enough - plenty of cat 1s are getting by on less time than that

I’d tend to agree with the common advice that you don’t need to regularly simulate the duration of your events but if you have it as a major mental hurdle you’ll need to clear that - so maybe a weekly, or even monthly, long crusher of a ride on Saturday or Sunday would help you with this.

Further - I’d point you towards your on bike hydration and fueling. As races get more competitive and longer the fuel you take in becomes more and more important. You might very well fight off your cramping issue by getting ahead of hydration and nutrition. Said differently, you have the same problem already in your two hour events but they aren’t long enough to reveal the depth of the problem

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Thanks - appreciate the thoughts. Agreed, I didn’t mention the fueling, but agreed it’s much more important and needs to be more thought through in the 3.5-4hr race, where as in the 2-2.5 hr race I took on fuel but wasn’t nearly as vital. I’d think in a 4 hr race I could even eat some real food in the begging?

Totally depends on the person.

For reference I compete in P123 road races regularly, although most are in the 3 hour range in the eastern US. I typically start with bars or more solid things in the first hour and switch to clif bloks and SiS gels as the race progresses. However, if the course is going to have a decisive effort early on I will change things up

I’m closer to the Nate side of the eating spectrum though as I don’t have too much digestive troubles.

Definitely recommend you experiment with this and figure out what works for you. The 90-120 minute interval sessions in the high volume build plans are a nice way to figure out what works for you (or going on very hard group rides)

Congratulations on upgrading!! That’s awesome!!!

I would suggest trying to get into a few more high-paced group rides if you can, hopefully closer to the duration of your races. That will give you the race intensity that you’ll need for the duration you need, and also give you some opportunity to figure out the cramping thing, such as hydration.

The 1/2/3 fields are typically raced together/picked together. The only times I’ve seen these picked separately are if there are 45+/55+ racing together. Then they pick the age groups separately. But the 1/2/3s are all picked together.

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Thanks, I attribute a lot of it to TR. I really stalled out a couple years doing too much sweet spot and not enough intensity. Picked up TR in January and has really helped me see more of my potential. And love this forum to be able to go through this kind of thing.

Agreed, I’ve honestly always avoided group rides, I like to try to allocate my risk to races, and try to keep training safe. The HOP ride here in the East Bay has had some bad crashes the past few years, somewhat proving my hypothesis… But I see the value.

And good point - after checking the fliers they do score together - so guess I’m racing the 1/2’s as well!

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Yeah, I’ve been doing the High Volume general build and HV specialty this year. I generally don’t practice fueling too much but should. I think maybe taking some of the 120’s and adding some tempo/SS to the beginning then doing the 120 for say a 3 hr+ workout could be a good way to simulate and practice fueling. And B and C races. Fun stuff!

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I get this. I’m in the South Bay, and my club’s Saturday ride is usually pretty safe, but we had a couple of bad crashes last year. I was on the ride when one of them happened. It’s an unfortunate reality that crashes are going to happen, even on practice rides, and I totally understand wanting to minimize risks during training. However, the other part of riding/racing is gaining a sixth sense about when crashes might happen and when to back off. Example: a few teammates were riding a group ride on Canada Rd about 2.5 weeks ago. The group was pacelining and going very fast. One of my teammates is a Cat 1 racer with 23+ years of racing experience. She felt that it was going too fast for people’s ability, and pulled the plug–she went to the back and stayed there. Not very long after, one guy hit something that made him lose control of his bike, he swerved into another teammate, and she went off the road into the dirt and fractured her clavicle. The only way to gain that experience of “this is too fast for people’s ability” is to be out there and try it out. There are rides out here known to be safe, and rides known to be crashfests. Picking a ride where you’re comfortable, or where you GROW comfortable, is really important. You start learning people’s wheels, and all of this will give you a lot more skill in the pack when you’re racing.